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Med Teach. 2009 Jul;31(7):e295-302.

Shaping professionalism in pre-clinical medical students: Professionalism and the practice of medicine.

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  • 1Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, 1975 Zonal Avenue, KAM 100B, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9020, USA.



Increasing emphasis is placed on teaching and assessment of professionalism in the continuum of medical education. Consistent and longitudinal instruction and assessment are crucial factors that learners need in order to internalize the tenets of professionalism.


We aimed to develop a novel longitudinal course in professionalism spanning the first 2 years in a medical curriculum.


This is a description of the process undertaken over the past 7 years to develop and implement a professionalism curriculum. We used the conceptual framework of constructivism, principles of adult learning, experiential learning and reflective practice to integrate learning with experience. We included student input in session development. Faculty mentors serve as role models to guide, assist and counsel students. Assessment of learners is accomplished using self, peer and mentor evaluation, and a student portfolio. Program evaluation is by course and faculty evaluation.


Students are given a final grade of pass or fail, together with a brief narrative. Course evaluations were positive. A survey questionnaire showed that more than 60% of the students reported gaining skills related to course goals.


A longitudinal curriculum for the pre-clinical years was successfully launched. Plans are under way to expand this into the clinical years.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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